Trade shows are a terrific venue for marketing your company’s goods and services. The Green Festival, a long-running marketplace for socially responsible businesses and their products, is held several times per year, and has attendance well into the tens of thousands. Our company exhibited our sustainability game at the Green Festival in New York, Chicago, LA, and San Francisco last year, and recommend it highly to anyone looking to explore the green consumer marketplace.
Here’s some tips to help you make the most of your trade show experience, based on our experience last year.
- Pack a few extra items. We thought we’d be able to get by on coffee alone, so we packed our stainless steel travel mugs and prepared to buy several cups of organic joe from the trade show’s coffee vendors, but realized quickly that we needed water bottles and more portable food in order to power us through the show. There was fantastic food, but realistically, taking a half hour or 45 minutes to sit and eat simply wasn’t in the schedule, and non-portable food (think Clif Bars as a good option) just didn’t cut it. In addition, one of the trade shows (LA) was frigid (the A/C was cranked). Not anticipating that, we ended up needing to buy an organic blanket from the vendor next to us. We got lucky–there’s not always an organic blanket vendor nearby! 🙂
- Bring more giveaways than you ever think you’ll need. Trade show attendees are notorious for being looky-loos. Make sure you have plenty of really low cost and low impact things to give them with your business information on it. The natural choice is business cards, but get creative, too. Our board game comes with a bookmark that is branded, simply because the player pieces are printed on heavy stock paper and we had extra, so during manufacturing, we designed in a bookmark. It paid off nicely…we gave several hundred bookmarks away, costing us nothing, but giving people something useful that was also reminding them of our site.
- Have a gimmick. It’s silly, but necessary–people at trade shows are somewhat on the defensive, ready to veer past a booth quickly if it doesn’t immediately call out to them in some way. If you have a prize or a giveaway, like these cool jute bags, and can make a game of it, now you’re talking. We ended up asking people to roll our really cool, sustainable wood dice from our board game demo, and if they rolled a 2 or 12, they received a free copy of Build a Green Small Business, Scott Cooney’s McGraw-Hill book on green entrepreneurship. We gave away about 15 books during the weekend, but got several hundred people to stop by, touch and feel our game, and listen to our pitch while they waited to see if they won.
Photo of green business gifts from Brandme.com.au, who helped support this article.